Solar Roast Coffee, a company that uses solar energy to roast its beans, is downtown Colorado Springs’ newest coffee shop, replacing the Starbucks on the street corner near Acacia Park.
“It feels like we’re taking the corner back from a chain,” owner Mike Hartkop said on Wednesday, opening day.
Solar Roast, 134 N. Tejon St., features local ingredients in many of its dishes, including handmade pastries and sandwiches made with Pueblo chiles. Colorful murals, inside and out, give Solar Roast a unique feel.
Hartkop and his brother invented a way to roast coffee beans using solar equipment, rather than the traditional way of using propane or natural gas exhaust.
Their roasting method is similar to shining a beam of sunlight through a magnifying glass, which heats the coffee beans low and slow to create a smooth, rich coffee.
The first shop opened in 2007 in downtown Pueblo. In downtown Colorado Springs, the store opened for the first time at 7 a.m. Wednesday. By noon, about 15 people were seated inside while passersby stopped to check out the murals and the menu.
“It’s about supporting local economies and hiring local employees,” Hartkop said. “I’ve seen more humanity here than my 10 years in Pueblo.”